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“Love of neighbor can exist only in the love of God and through it. It draws its strength from the fact that God’s Son, who in His sacred humanity is infinitely lovable, has identified Himself with the least of His brothers. They are worthy of our love, as He Himself is; they have a right to the love that we owe Him.” Christians in Syria are appealing to us: “Our Calvary is a long one. Pray to the Queen of Peace for an end to the violence!”

The month of May is especially dedicated to the Mother of God. In the Liturgy, Our Lady is given a wonderful title that originates from the book of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), namely “Mother of Fair Love.” Love is indeed fair when it comes from God and leads to God. This is the measure of its beauty. The more man stretches out towards the love of God, the more he radiates beauty and loving kindness. For the love of God is the root of his dignity; he is loved by God and thereby called to love as God loves. Only the love of God makes man capable of truly loving his neighbor and fully respecting his dignity. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta often summed up her entire work in these five words of Jesus: “You did it to me.” She tells how “One day they brought in a man off the streets. His body was half eaten by worms. Nobody could stand next to him – the stench was so great. So I went in to

Father Werenfried Founder of Aid to the Church in Need

clean him up. He looked at me, then asked, ‘Why are you doing this? Everyone has discarded me; why are you doing this? Why do you come close to me?’ – ‘I love you,’ I replied. ‘I love you; you are Jesus in the terrible clothing of suffering. Jesus is sharing His sufferings with you.’ And then he looked up and said ‘But you, you, too, are sharing it by doing what you are

Jesus to all people. In Him we can recognize ourselves, too, as made in God’s image, an image that predisposes us to imitate God in His love. No one is better able than the Mother of God to teach us the secret of “fair love,” the love that makes itself entirely a gift, to God and our neighbor. The young Italian saint, Gabriele Possenti (1838-1862) wrote in his Marian Confession of Faith that even the angels learn from Mary how to love. “I believe, Mary, that you alone have perfectly fulfilled the commandment of the Lord: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…’ so that even the blessed Seraphim of heaven could have descended to earth, in order to learn in your heart how to love God.”

Love is beautiful when it comes from God and leads to God.

doing.’ I said, ‘No, I am sharing with you the joy of loving, by loving Jesus Christ in you.’ Whereupon this Hindu gentleman said ‘Praised be Jesus Christ.’ He had discovered that he was someone; a person, and that he was loved.” My grateful blessing Every human being has a right to learn that he or she is loved by God. With your help, and guided by this supernatural motivation, the Church’s missionaries willingly tackle every journey, no matter how far or how strenuous, in order to bring

Father Martin M. Barta Ecclesiastical Assistant 1

ED/2/5/13

No. 4 – May 2012 Newsletter Published eight times a year

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Delivering the Gospel message

Pakistan. A blessing – for a good start with the new prayer group.

Malawi. A blessing – for a safe journey to the confirmation candidates in the countryside.

Boats, Land Rovers, motorbikes, trucks, buses, cars, bicycles – through over 400 separate projects you helped to drive forward the Church’s pastoral apostolate in 2011 and mobilize the Good News. The great John Paul II was once asked what huge expanse of Sumbe Diocese in Angola. he would ask of God for mankind, if he were A sturdy vehicle brings a dramatic rise in the allowed only one request. He did not hesi- number of baptisms, in the number of prayer tate. “Mercy,” was his answer. And the great- groups. During the six-month rainy season est act of mercy, surely, is to lead men to in the Amazon, travel on the mudslides that God. To do so, one needs to fetch them from pass for roads is impossible without a fourwhere they are, or go out to them where they wheel-drive vehicle. Meanwhile, Father are. A catechist in Alexandre José of God’s Mercy needs a Nigeria can increase the Parish of the Sahis range by 30 or 40 suitable mode of transport. cred Hearts of Jesus miles if he has a biand Mary in Marcycle. A priest in East Ukraine cannot even romeu, Mozambique, would be overjoyed begin to minister to his scattered communi- to have 26 bicycles for his catechists and ties, scores of miles apart, unless he has a car. parish leaders. His parish covers an area of Without a vehicle, much of his flock will be 7,300 square miles and includes over 60 deprived – no sick visits, little catechesis, few smaller communities. Everything is done opportunities for Holy Mass. Even God’s with bicycles – from ferrying the sick to the mercy requires a suitable mode of transport. nearest doctor (often 30 miles or more Take the Diocese of Itaituba, for example, in away), accompanying the dead on their last the vast Amazon region of Brazil – or the journey to the cemetery, to bringing expectant mothers to give birth at the maternity clinic. One bicycle costs just $90.

Angola. Even a four-wheel drive struggles in conditions like these. 2

Wherever the Church is alive and active, she is also on the move – whether on two wheels or four, by motor power or manpower, by canoe, by boat or by bus. For the pastoral outreach and the Gospel mission, inevitably involves traveling – traveling to build up churches. Even Saint Paul was well aware of this. The ancient car of Father Dainius, in Kietaviskes, Lithuania, now has 275,000 miles

Tanzania. A blessing – for the catechists on their two-wheeled mission.

on the clock – and many of the roads are not even tarred. So many times already at the repair shop they have warned that this will have to be the last repair. Now he is asking our help – for the sake of his Confirmation classes, his First Holy Communion children, the sick and the elderly. They all need him, and he needs the car. It is the vital delivery system for his pastoral apostolate. We have promised him $6,600. ‘Put out into the deep!’ – Duc in altum! This is the motto on the coat of arms of the Apostolic Vicariate in the Comoros islands. Two years ago this group of islands was constituted as a vicariate. Some 99% of the population is Muslim, and the 1% of Christians live an almost virtual existence on the five islands. Any open and public parish life is impossible in this fiercely Islamic environment. So they meet in private, in prayer groups. The task of ministering to these people, of maintaining a sense of solidarity, giving regular instruction to the children and young people – all this involves a great deal of hard work, a great deal of traveling. In this situation ‘Duc in altum!’ has a quite literal meaning for the apostolic vicar here. We have promised him $14,400 for a car. Will you help to set the wheels rolling?

Any donation you kindly give will go to support these, or similar projects, and enable the pastoral work of Aid to the Church in Need.


ees Refug

A garment of new dignity

In the Our Father “we pray for our bread – and at the same time, for bread for others,” writes Pope Benedict XVI. Each of us, he adds, should become “a lover, whose heart is open to being torn by another’s need.” “You are not forgotten,” said the Nuncio in Bangkok to the Burmese refugees on the Thai border, his heart torn by their needs. And he quoted Pope Benedict: “Working on behalf of refugees is one of the essential duties of the Church.” There are 17,000 Catholics here, who fled or were forced here, among the 150,000+ refugees from Waiting to return home – Burmese refugee children in Thailand.

With the Good Shepherd Sisters – a refuge for abandoned women.

the war and chaos in Burma. Six priests are herd in Lebanon. For they know that when ministering to them, materially and spiritu- a person regains his sense of dignity he ally, in everything – from the medical care can then forgive others – and only through forgiveness, not reof the sick, of chilvenge, can recondren, of expectant “You are not forgotten!” ciliation be achieved. mothers, through The Sisters are helpthe distribution of food supplies to the dispensing of the ing women and girls who have been raped, Sacraments, catechesis, the organizing of rejected by their families or forced to flee. In prayer groups, of basic schooling and vo- their convent in Ain Saadé, in the Christian cational training. The plight of these quarter, there is help and healing available, refugees has indeed torn at the hearts of the with everything – from psychological counbishops in Thailand and Burma. Their ap- seling, through hygiene, to hair care – on the peal has not gone unheard. Confident of program. Thus there is also a need for mateyour generous response, we have already rial things – for soap, washcloths, paper, promised them $32,800 this year. books, etc. The Word to nourish the soul, and a garment of new dignity. We have promised Human dignity is every bit as important as the Good Shepherd Sisters $3,900. Will you our daily bread. This is a central concern of help them to provide this garment for those the Sisters of Our Lady of the Good Shep- in their care?

Via Crucis in Damascus

Archbishop Nassar holds up the cross – sign of hope and redemptive suffering.

Where can they go now? They have fled the violence in their Iraqi homeland; now in Syria the terror has caught up with them. Archbishop Samir Nassar, of the Maronite and rosaries in their hand. They have no Catholics in Damascus, can remember a long bread left, no milk for their babies, no work, way back – in 1920 it was the Armenians no prospects. They are ready to do anything who came here, then in 1934 the Syrians, in – some of them even contemplate selling 1948 the Palestinian Christians, and since their virtue – simply in order to save their 2003 the Christians from Iraq. They have children from starvation. Naked, homeless, fled here from the war and violence. And hungry, thirsty – for Archbishop Nassar they now these uprooted Christians are facing vi- are indeed among ‘the least of his brothers’. olence again, here in Damascus. More and But his hands are empty, too; all he can do is more of them are coming to the tomb of the to fold them in prayer before the Almighty – martyrs, desperate, with tears in their eyes and appeal to us for support.

Any donation you kindly give will go to support these, or similar projects, and enable the pastoral work of Aid to the Church in Need.

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Father Geoffrey Owacgiu was a young priest in the Diocese of Nebbi, in Uganda when, thanks to your generosity, he was given a motorcycle for his pastoral work. That was 13 years ago. “You cannot imagine,” he now writes, “what a wonderful service you thereby performed for the people of God, or just how much you have helped me, through this means of transport, to save souls.” He uses it for his apostolate in the schools and in youth work. Five parishes benefit from it, and every day the motorbike still covers at least 10 miles – often on stony or sandy tracks – and is still going strong. Sometimes other priests in the diocese also use it; without this vehicle many a Holy Mass and catechism class could not have taken place. Father Geoffrey simply wants “to say a heartfelt thank you.”

Need, love and thanks – Your letters Listening to their hearts Each time we read the Mirror we are moved into helping, even though in a small way, with our donation. The need is immense but the work your organisation does always moves us into taking time to look into our hearts and responding this way. So together we wish to send our donation of $2000. Half of the amount should be used for the support of priests in Eastern Europe and the Third World. May God continue to bless the wonderful work of your organisation and we pledge our continued support and prayers. A family in Australia To shelter them from the cold I was moved by the account in the Mirror of the Poor Clares in Uruguay and I am sending you 80 Euros. I had intended to save up the money, but this cold winter has hit the poorest of the poor particularly hard. The sisters are needed in their coun-

try and must not be allowed to fall ill because of the cold. I am always delighted to receive my copy of the Mirror. A benefactress in Germany Praying for the persecuted To all our brothers and sisters in Christ – every Wednesday at 9.00am before the Blessed Sacrament, we pray for all our persecuted brethren. You are very precious to us. With all our love, thoughts and prayers. A parish group in the UK A hidden helper “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?” (Jn. 14:9). I have been supporting ACN for more years than I can remember. I even have a picture that was sent to me by the Bacon Priest, Father Werenfried van Straaten. Together with ACN, he remains in my heart. A benefactor in France

Johannes Freiherr Heereman, Executive President of ACN International

From time to time I am asked the question, sometimes with a note of concern: What was the re-founding of ACN by the Holy Father all about? What were the causes and what are the consequences? ACN was steered for decades by Father Werenfried’s strong hand. The structures were of no great importance at first. In fact, in a certain sense, he himself was the structure that held everything together. The previous canonical form – a universal association of pontifical right – is primarily intended for life in religious communities and not so much for an association that unites people in the pursuit of a common goal: in this case the support of our suffering sisters and brothers in the Faith through our prayers and financial offerings. Much better suited to this purpose is our new legal form as a pontifical foundation. It helps to strengthen the unity of our charity and to make the decision-making processes simpler, quicker and more efficient. ACN continues as before to be an independent charity, made up of Christians working together in solidarity with their suffering and persecuted fellow Christians – and it is made possible exclusively thanks to your help!

Leave a legacy of your love when writing or changing your will. Publisher: Kirche in Not/Ostpriesterhilfe, Aid to the Church in Need, International Headquarters, Postfach 1209, 61452 Königstein, Germany; www.acn-intl.org; Editor-in-chief: Jürgen Liminski De licentia competentis auctoritatis ecclesiasticae Printed in the USA – ISSN 0252-2535 4


gathe f o e A tim

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Father Werenfried – hands outstretched, and joined in prayer

Father Werenfried continues to be a gatherer. Speaking to commemorate the ninth anniversary of his death, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the Archbishop of Cologne, gave a theological analysis of this gathering, under four headings. He spoke of his gathering of believers, of the lost and abandoned, of prayers and of gifts. 1. In each of these areas of gathering, “Father Werenfried is at home,” the Cardinal observed. Right from the beginning, the Church has lived by the “regular gathering” of the faithful. The one who gathers, said Cardinal Meisner, “is in fact the Lord. The Eucharistic gathering is the highest form of assembly, for here we are gathered together in the teaching of the Apostles, in fraternal community, in the breaking of the bread, and in prayer.” In order to make this possible, Father Werenfried “energetically and substantially helped to support the training of future priests.” His creative imagination “never failed him in assisting the faithful to gather together in the Body of Christ, in church.” 2. Similarly, in the search for the “lost sheep, the lost drachma, the lost son,” his imaginative approach knew no bounds. Said Cardinal Meisner, “In the past half-century, becoming lost has virtually developed into a mass movement. Father Werenfried was surely one of the most widely traveled of priests, in seeking out the lost ones, and in enlisting other helpers who, together with him, could go out to find these lost ones.” One of the means he used in this search was the newsletter, the Mirror. Through this regular letter to his benefactors he also called out to the “onlookers, the abandoned, the scattered and the newly arrived, telling them: ‘The Lord is waiting for you in the actual community of the local parish.’” For “the basic tenor of the Mirror was and is one of invitation: Come! Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The ‘theology of the collection plate’ – Cardinal Meisner giving his homily in Cologne Cathedral.

A beggar for God – Father Werenfried with his ‘hat of millions.’

3. Always, the Mirror contains a call to prayer. And to such “prayer in common, a special promise of the Lord is attached,” the Cardinal added. ‘If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven’ (Mt. 18:19). Yet the members of the community must be of one mind among themselves, so that they can praise God “… and with one voice, as Saint Paul writes in his Epistle to the Romans.” We are accustomed to seeing the hands of Father Werenfried outstretched, to gather in donations. But before this, he joined these hands together in prayer for his countless benefactors. He gathered together all the many concerns, cares and desires of his benefactors and of all those in need, and placed them in the heart of the heavenly Father. For this reason, “the great community of the benefactors of ACN is, first and foremost, always a community of prayer.” 4. The Church lives “in the midst of the world. It needs the things of this world, including money.” But the Church uses this money “not to hoard it up, but to give it out.” That is why ACN possesses “no plump reserves, but instead gathers in many small, medium and larger donations in order to give them out again wherever they are needed.” These gifts, the Cardinal told us, are “sacrifices pleasing to God” (Hebr. 13:16) and as such also a “help to the service of the Gospel.” Anyone who understands the church collection in this way “will not be stingy in his giving. ACN gathers together all people for the Lord, and all gifts for our sisters and brothers.”

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Any donation you kindly give will go to support these, or similar projects, and enable the pastoral work of Aid to the Church in Need.


Iraq n i s tian Chris

“We want to stay in our homeland!”

Faith is also a matter of reason – Archbishop Ephrem Yousif Abba talks with youngsters in the classroom.

Violence and terror are an everyday fact of life in Iraq.They can strike anyone, at any time. But above all they strike the Christians.

Christian children in school – they want to hear about Jesus, Mary and Joseph and to learn something of the saints.

which suffered the terrible attack in October 2010. Father Aysar Saaed has even broken off his studies in Rome and returned to Baghdad in order to help the wounded and traumatized. He is concerned above all with the pastoral care of the young and wants to strengthen them in their faith. On Fridays especially, the Muslim day of prayer, children and young people from all over Baghdad come into the parish. The problem is, however, that the public transport system is barely functional, while taxis and private firms are prohibitively expensive. And so the parish has purchased a school bus – with the help of $32,800 from ACN. The bus picks up the children and drops them home again. In this city of bombs and terrorism, that is by no means a luxury. Reinhard Backes

Photo: Fr Yoannis Lahzi Gaid

tion for Christian children in the state schools. As the archbishop explains, the government in Baghdad currently pays the salaries of five teachers of religion. Four of them give Islamic instruction and just one For example, in late October 2010, masked Christian instruction. Moreover, the 150 men, heavily armed, stormed the Syrian boys and girls from Christian families, aged Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad. There were between 6 and 12, have just one hour of reroughly 100 Catholic faithful gathered there ligious instruction, while the Muslims have for Mass that Sunday evening. Shots rang two. Since they would otherwise be obliged through the cathedral, grenades exploded, to spend the remaining hour attending the Isscreams and panic everywhere. More than 50 lamic instruction, the archbishop has engaged two additional people died, among The witness to peace teachers at the them children and Church’s expense. young people, and is indispensable. The cost of their two priests. Scores more were injured. This terrorist attack salaries together comes to close to $5,400 per prompted worldwide horror. Iraqi Christians, year – money the diocese does not have. And including around 150,000 in Baghdad alone, so he has turned to ACN for help. Through are fearful and unsettled. A new wave of em- this project, your generosity “is helping to educate children in the Christian faith and igration is underway. encouraging them to attend the Catholic And yet there are many Christians who have Church.” We will, of course, help him. chosen to stay on in their homeland. They are drawing new courage from the knowl- According to Archbishop Abba, Iraq needs edge of the solidarity, kindness and prayers the preaching of the Good News more urof so many thousands of Christians around gently than ever. The witness to peace and the world. You, too, are supporting these em- reconciliation, and the commitment to the battled, menaced and persecuted sisters and harmonious coexistence of different ethnic brothers of ours. For example, at the request religious and denominational groups is inof Mar Ephrem Yousif Abba, the Syrian dispensable. Many Catholics are committed Catholic Archbishop of Baghdad, you are to this, including the parishioners of the helping to fund the cost of religious instruc- cathedral parish of Our Lady of Deliverance,

After the terrorist attack – flowers for the victims in the cathedral.

Any donation you kindly give will go to support these, or similar projects, and enable the pastoral work of Aid to the Church in Need.

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Mirror 4 2012